Reality show snake handling pastor dies from snakebite
Pastor Jamie Coots, star of the National Geographic reality show 'Snake Salvation', died after he was bitten by one of the snakes he was handling. Coots' son says this was the ninth time his father had been bitten while using snakes in a service.
John Bacon, USA TODAY
7:30 a.m. CST February 17, 2014
A Kentucky pastor who co-starred in the TV show Snake Salvation has died of a snakebite.
Emergency personnel received a call Saturday night that someone at a church, Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, had suffered a snakebite, Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe said in a statement. He said an ambulance crew went to the church, but the Rev. Jamie Coots had left. The crew went to Coots' home and found him suffering from a bite to the hand.
"After a brief examination and discussion of the possible dangers if the wound was not treated, treatment — and transport to the hospital — was refused," Sharpe said.
An hour later, police, emergency officials and a deputy coroner returned to the home to find that Coots had died, Sharpe said.
Coots, who was profiled on The National Geographic show featuring Pentecostal, serpent-handling preachers, pleaded guilty last year to violating Tennessee's exotic animals law and agreed to surrender his snakes.
Coots and the show's co-star, the Rev. Andrew Hamblin, believe in a passage from the Gospel of Mark that suggests a poisonous snakebite won't harm them if they are anointed by God's power:
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."